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The change of land cover and land use and its impact factors in upriver key regions of the Yellow River

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Owing to the influence of global change, land cover and land use have changed significantly over the last decade in the cold and arid regions of China, such as Madoi County which is located in the source area of the Yellow River. In this paper, land-use/cover change and landscape dynamics are investigated using satellite remote sensing (RS) and a geographical information system (GIS). The objectives of this paper are to determine land-use/cover transition rates between different cover types in the Madoi County over 10 years e.g., from 1990 to 2000. Second, the changes of landscape metrics using various indices and models are quantified. The impact factors of LUCC (Land-Use land cover Change) are systematically identified by integrating remote sensing as well as statistical data, including climate, frozen soil, hydrological data and the socio-economic data. Using 30 m×30 m spatial resolution Landsat (Enhanced) Thematic Mapper (TM/ETM+) data in our study area, nine land cover classes can be discriminated. Our results show that Grassland, Marshes and Water Bodies decrease notably, while oppositely, Sands - Gobi and Barren land increase significantly. The number of lakes with an acreage larger than six hectares decreased from 405 in 1990 to 261 in 2000. Numerous small lakes dried out. The area of grassland with a high cover fraction decreased as well, while the surface area of grassland with a medium level of cover fraction increased. The medium cover fraction grassland mainly originates from high cover fraction grassland. The desertification of land is a serious issue. (ii) The inter-transformations between Grasslands, Barren Land, Sands, Gobi, Water Bodies and Marshes are remarkable. The Shannon-Weaver Diversity Index (SWDI), the Evenness Index (EI) and the extent of Landscape Heterogeneity (LH) has improved. Marshes have become more fragmented hence, with less connected patches. (iii) In the recent 30 years, average annual temperature, the power of evaporation and the index of dryness did increase significantly. Moreover, soil moisture content (SMC) decreased and the drought trend accelerated. The degradation of frozen soil has impacted on the decrease of surface water area and induced a drop in groundwater levels. Monitoring LUCC in sensitive regions would not only benefit from a study of vulnerable ecosystems in cold and high altitude regions, but would provide scientifically based decision-making tools for local governments as well.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Remote Sensing Applications, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Beijing, 100101, China,National Satellite Meteorological Center (NSMC), Beijing, 100081, China 2: Institute of Environmental Science and Engineering, Chang'an University, Xi'an, 710054, China 3: Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute (CAREERI), Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou, 730000, China 4: Flemish Institute for Technological Research, Centre for Remote Sensing and Earth Observation Processes, BE-2400 Mol, Belgium

Publication date: January 1, 2009

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